Article I — Of Faith in the Holy Trinity
There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body or parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the maker and preserver of all things, both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there are three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
We affirm the classical Christian understanding of the Trinity, that God exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - one God, three persons.
Article II — Of the Word, or Son of God, Who Was Made Very Man
The Son, who is the Word of the Father, the very and eternal God, of one substance with the Father, took man's nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin; so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one person, never to be divided; whereof is one Christ, very God and very Man, who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for actual sins of men.
We affirm that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, became flesh and lived a perfect life among us. In His death, He took our sin upon Himself, receiving the punishment that we were due.
Article III — Of the Resurrection of Christ
Christ did truly rise again from the dead, and took again his body, with all things appertaining to the perfection of man's nature, wherewith he ascended into heaven, and there sitteth until he return to judge all men at the last day.
We affirm that, after having taken our sin upon Himself, Jesus rose from the dead in victory over sin and death. We believe that He will one day return to judge the world.
Article IV — Of the Holy Ghost
The Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one substance, majesty, and glory with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God.
We affirm the divinity of the Holy Spirit, and His equality with the Father and the Son.
Article V — Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation
The Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the Holy Scripture we do understand those canonical books of the Old and New Testament of whose authority was never any doubt in the church. The names of the canonical books are:
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, The First Book of Samuel, The Second Book of Samuel, The First Book of Kings, The Second Book of Kings, The First Book of Chronicles, The Second Book of Chronicles, The Book of Ezra, The Book of Nehemiah, The Book of Esther, The Book of Job, The Psalms, The Proverbs, Ecclesiastes or the Preacher, Cantica or Songs of Solomon, Four Prophets the Greater, Twelve Prophets the Less.
All the books of the New Testament, as they are commonly received, we do receive and account canonical.
We affirm that God has spoken through the Bible, and that the books thereof do not include what is commonly known as the Apocrypha (books written between the time of the Old Testament and the New).
Article VI — Of the Old Testament
The Old Testament is not contrary to the New; for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and man, being both God and Man. Wherefore they are not to be heard who feign that the old fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the law given from God by Moses as touching ceremonies and rites doth not bind Christians, nor ought the civil precepts thereof of necessity be received in any commonwealth; yet notwithstanding, no Christian whatsoever is free from the obedience of the commandments which are called moral.
We affirm that the Old Testament is in agreement with the New, that the God of the Old Testament is the same as the God of the New Testament. We also hold that the ritual laws of the Old Testament do not apply to Christ followers, for He has made us clean.
Article VII — Of Original or Birth Sin
Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk), but it is the corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and of his own nature inclined to evil, and that continually.
We affirm that all are guilty of sin because our hearts are corrupted. We recognize that Christ is necessary to remove this sin from us.
Article VIII — Of Free Will
The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and works, to faith, and calling upon God; wherefore we have no power to do good works, pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will.
We affirm that all are given free will by God, and that it is only by God's grace that we can effectively turn from sin to Him.
Article IX — Of the Justification of Man
We are accounted righteous before God only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by faith, only, is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort.
We affirm that we are not righteous before God because of anything we have done, but because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf.
Article X — Of Good Works
Although good works, which are the fruits of faith, and follow after justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the severity of God's judgment; yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and spring out of a true and lively faith, insomuch that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known as a tree is discerned by its fruit.
We affirm that, although we are not made righteous in God's sight by our good works, righteous deeds are still a necessary part of the Christian life in order for us to appropriately demonstrate our faith by our actions in the world.
Article XI — Of Works of Supererogation
Voluntary works—besides, over and above God's commandments—which they call works of supererogation, cannot be taught without arrogancy and impiety. For by them men do declare that they do not only render unto God as much as they are bound to do, but that they do more for his sake than of bounden duty is required; whereas Christ saith plainly: When you have done all that is commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants.
We affirm that we must do that which God asks of us. To attempt to go beyond His requirements of us is arrogant of us.
Article XII — Of Sin After Justification
Not every sin willingly committed after justification is the sin against the Holy Ghost, and unpardonable. Wherefore, the grant of repentance is not to be denied to such as fall into sin after justification. After we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace given, and fall into sin, and, by the grace of God, rise again and amend our lives. And therefore they are to be condemned who say they can no more sin as long as they live here; or deny the place of forgiveness to such as truly repent.
We affirm that God still offers forgiveness for sins even after we have begun to follow Jesus. We cannot act as if we never sin anymore - to do so would be a lie!
Article XIII — Of the Church
The visible church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men in which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments duly administered according to Christ's ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.
We affirm that the Church is a group of believers (not a building!) who come together to celebrate and worship God through preaching and the Sacraments (Communion and Baptism).
Article XIV — Of Purgatory
The Romish doctrine concerning purgatory, pardon, worshiping, and adoration, as well of images as of relics, and also invocation of saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warrant of Scripture, but repugnant to the Word of God.
We do not believe that purgatory (a place of purification before we reach Heaven) is taught by the Bible. We believe that God purifies us by His Holy Spirit within us, and that He brings us to be with Him when we pass away.
See Luke 23:39-43; 2 Corinthians 5:6-8; Philippians 1:23; Hebrews 9:27-28
Article XV — Of Speaking in the Congregation in Such a Tongue as the People Understand
It is a thing plainly repugnant to the Word of God, and the custom of the primitive church, to have public prayer in the church, or to minister the Sacraments, in a tongue not understood by the people.
4. For the contemporary interpretation of this and similar articles, (i.e. Articles XIV, XV, XVI, XVIII, XIX, XX, and XXI) in consonance with our best ecumenical insights and judgment, see "Resolution of Intent: With a View to Unity," The Book of Resolutions, 2008, p.292).
We affirm that God does, in fact, give spiritual gifts such as the gift of speaking in tongues. However, to speak in tongues with no interpreter present is against Scripture.
Article XVI — Of the Sacraments
Sacraments ordained of Christ are not only badges or tokens of Christian men's profession, but rather they are certain signs of grace, and God's good will toward us, by which he doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm, our faith in him.
There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel; that is to say, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord.
Those five commonly called sacraments, that is to say, confirmation, penance, orders, matrimony, and extreme unction, are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel; being such as have partly grown out of the corrupt following of the apostles, and partly are states of life allowed in the Scriptures, but yet have not the like nature of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, because they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God.
The Sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon, or to be carried about; but that we should duly use them. And in such only as worthily receive the same, they have a wholesome effect or operation; but they that receive them unworthily, purchase to themselves condemnation, as St. Paul saith.
We affirm the existence of two Sacraments, being Communion and Baptism. These were specifically set in place by Christ Himself.
We disagree with the idea that there are seven Sacraments (being, in addition to the two previously mentioned, confirmation in the faith, confession, ordination into the priesthood, marriage, and last rites) as Christ did not institute these Himself as Sacraments in the scriptures.
Article XVII — Of Baptism
Baptism is not only a sign of profession and mark of difference whereby Christians are distinguished from others that are not baptized; but it is also a sign of regeneration or the new birth. The Baptism of young children is to be retained in the Church.
We affirm that Baptism is an important part of our Christian walks. We are to be baptized as a sign of our submission to God and His regenerating work within us.
We in the United Methodist Church practice the baptism of young children as a symbol of their dedication to God and inclusion into the Christian community. God reaches out to our hearts from the very beginning of our lives.
Article XVIII — Of the Lord's Supper
The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves one to another, but rather is a sacrament of our redemption by Christ's death; insomuch that, to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith receive the same, the bread which we break is a partaking of the body of Christ; and likewise the cup of blessing is a partaking of the blood of Christ.
Transubstantiation, or the change of the substance of bread and wine in the Supper of our Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ, but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.
The body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the Supper, only after a heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is faith.
The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshiped.
We affirm that we are to receive the Lord's Supper whenever possible, and that the Spirit of God is present in the bread and the cup. This meal is not to become an idol for us, being a means for us to experience the grace of God, not an object to worship.
Article XIX — Of Both Kinds
The cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the lay people; for both the parts of the Lord's Supper, by Christ's ordinance and commandment, ought to be administered to all Christians alike.
We affirm that Communion is to be offered to all, not just to a select few. If we wish to meet Christ, His table is open to us.
Article XX — Of the One Oblation of Christ, Finished upon the Cross
The offering of Christ, once made, is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for sin but that alone. Wherefore the sacrifice of masses, in the which it is commonly said that the priest doth offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, is a blasphemous fable and dangerous deceit.
We affirm that Christ's sacrifice was sufficient for all who would call upon Him. He took our sins upon Himself - all sins we would commit, whether past, present, or future - and atoned for us in a way that pleased the Father.
Article XXI — Of the Marriage of Ministers
The ministers of Christ are not commanded by God's law either to vow the estate of single life, or to abstain from marriage; therefore it is lawful for them, as for all other Christians, to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve best to godliness.
We affirm that the scriptures give no specific commandment on the marital status of ministers of the Gospel. It is therefore lawful in the sight of God for ministers to decide for themselves whether or not they should marry.
Article XXII — Of the Rites and Ceremonies of Churches
It is not necessary that rites and ceremonies should in all places be the same, or exactly alike; for they have been always different, and may be changed according to the diversity of countries, times, and men's manners, so that nothing be ordained against God's Word. Whosoever, through his private judgment, willingly and purposely doth openly break the rites and ceremonies of the church to which he belongs, which are not repugnant to the Word of God, and are ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly, that others may fear to do the like, as one that offendeth against the common order of the church, and woundeth the consciences of weak brethren.
Every particular church may ordain, change, or abolish rites and ceremonies, so that all things may be done to edification.
We affirm that those ordained by a church ought to remain consistent with the practices of said church, unless their practices are not in line with God's Word.
Article XXIII — Of the Rulers of the United States of America
The President, the Congress, the general assemblies, the governors, and the councils of state, as the delegates of the people, are the rulers of the United States of America, according to the division of power made to them by the Constitution of the United States and by the constitutions of their respective states. And the said states are a sovereign and independent nation, and ought not to be subject to any foreign jurisdiction.
This is basically early American Methodism's way of saying, "Hey Great Britain, don't tell us what to do."
Article XXIV — Of Christian Men's Goods
The riches and goods of Christians are not common as touching the right, title, and possession of the same, as some do falsely boast. Notwithstanding, every man ought, of such things as he possesseth, liberally to give alms to the poor, according to his ability.
We affirm that we, as Christians, are called to give charitably to those in need.
Article XXV — Of a Christian Man's Oath
As we confess that vain and rash swearing is forbidden Christian men by our Lord Jesus Christ and James his apostle, so we judge that the Christian religion doth not prohibit, but that a man may swear when the magistrate requireth, in a cause of faith and charity, so it be done according to the prophet's teaching, in justice, judgment, and truth.
This is early American Methodism's way of noting that we are permitted to swear oaths in court and under similar circumstances.
[The following Article from the Methodist Protestant Discipline is placed here by the Uniting Conference (1939). It was not one of the Articles of Religion voted upon by the three churches.]
Sanctification is that renewal of our fallen nature by the Holy Ghost, received through faith in Jesus Christ, whose blood of atonement cleanseth from all sin; whereby we are not only delivered from the guilt of sin, but are washed from its pollution, saved from its power, and are enabled, through grace, to love God with all our hearts and to walk in his holy commandments blameless.
[The following provision was adopted by the Uniting Conference (1939). This statement seeks to interpret to our churches in foreign lands Article XXIII of the Articles of Religion. It is a legislative enactment but is not a part of the Constitution. (See Judicial Council Decisions 41, 176, and Decision 6, Interim Judicial Council.)]
Of the Duty of Christians to the Civil Authority
It is the duty of all Christians, and especially of all Christian ministers, to observe and obey the laws and commands of the governing or supreme authority of the country of which they are citizens or subjects or in which they reside, and to use all laudable means to encourage and enjoin obedience to the powers that be.
We believe and teach in accordance with the views of the larger United Methodist Church. Listed below are the official Articles of Religion adopted by the Methodist Church in 1808. The articles are listed in their original form, but sometimes the phrasing used in 1808 can be difficult to process! Brief explanations of our theological positions are included in italics following each article.
You can find more detailed outlines of the official beliefs of the United Methodist Church at umc.org/what-we-believe.